Kulundu Says Country On the Verge of Becoming a
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Newton Kulundu issued the warning as the House passed a vote of Sh3.4 billion for the ministry. Kulundu said the manner in which the country was destroying its vegetation was worrying. He said the trend must be reversed if the country is to escape being a desert.
He said the current forest cover in the country is 1.7 per cent whereas the internationally accepted ratio is 10 per cent. He said the country needs to plant 8.3 per cent trees to cover the gap, adding that his ministry needs a lot of funds to facilitate the exercise.
Kulundu was responding to Members' contributions following a two day debate on his ministry's vote in which he had requested for Sh3.4 billion. He said though allocation for the ministry was inadequate, he was hopeful the Government will,in future be able to allocate more funds.
He said his ministry will before November 17 organise a seminar for all MPs in Mombasa to appraise them on the environmental concerns. Experts from different fields will attend the workshop.
He said the Ministry understands the concerns raised by members and will not the lives of wild animals ahead of human beings.
Kulundu said if the Government had more funds, his office would have employed more rangers to man the parks.
He said the Ministry is in the process of repealing the current Act to give way for a new Wildlife and Conservation Act as the current law was outdated and does not provide for compensation.
He said during his weekend visit to Kitengela, he was humbled by knowledge the Maasai have of wildlife as they opposed the fencing off of the Nairobi National Park because they want to interact with wildlife.
Kulundu said he was in agreement with all Coast MPs over the negotiations he had with the Tiomin Company for the mining of titanium in Kwale.
The Minister announced that on Monday he will travel to Coast to announce the commencement of the Tiomin mining project and appealed to those politicising the scheme to stop.
The minister also put industrialists who pollute the environment on notice saying his ministry would soon come up with the National Environmental Conservation Act that will prescribe stiff penalties to defaulters who do not observe set standards.
Assistant Minister Wangari Mathai said it was a pity that the Ministry had been unable to stop its officers from destroying forests. Even the sacking of some by the minister had not acted on, he said.
She, however, said they were determined to stamp out forest destruction and were also working to make the officers comfortable so that they can protect the facilities.
Maathai said the Government wants to encourage Kenyans to be come tree farmers. He said the Ministry was opposed to fencing of the parks as this would make them zoos, which will not attract tourists.
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
October 8, 2003
Posted to the web October 7, 2003